AI Art: Why it’s hurting our artists 

Closeup photo of a white robot with an outstretched hand | Via Unsplash

Mariantonia Mejia | Staff Writer

Artificial intelligence, specifically the art it creates, is crossing the line between a fun experiment and a dangerous misuse of advanced technology.

With a rise in the popularity of AI art, real artists see their income suffer as a result, since people can now get whatever art piece they want without having to consider the time, effort and talent of the person behind it. 

One of the first of these programs to be used en masse is Dream by WOMBO, an app where users can feed the AI a prompt as well as a picture, and the program will create an abstract piece in the art style of their choosing. 

From these innocent beginnings of quicker-to-generate abstract art to the current new craze that is Lensa AI, we have seen its astronomical rise in quality without any input from real working artists whatsoever. 

Lensa allows users to upload ten to twenty pictures of themselves and the program will spit out one hundred portrait-like avatars of the user, all for the low price of $5.99. 

This should set off alarm bells. Because the intelligence of these programs has advanced, so has the quality of the art they produce. This means that anyone with $6 to spare can generate hundreds of high-quality, professional artworks; something that would take a flesh and blood artist weeks or even months to complete just one. 

Most corporations will do everything in their power to produce as much as possible without having to hand over a great deal of compensation, making AI art a virtual goldmine. 

Anyone paying to generate art from these programs can, with the disclosure that AI was involved, legally call it their own. Juliana Triana, the Student Fine Arts Ambassador for the Art + Art History department at FIU believes this is a rip-off. 

“Many people that use AI to do this kind of art aren’t actually artists, but they call it art and they could sell it as art. So, from that point of view, it’s unfair to other artists,” says Triana.

AI art not only invalidates the hard work of real artists, but it also stands to be an absolute ethical nightmare. 

Many AI programs, such as DALL-E and DALL-E 2, require pre-existing art to be fed to them to understand certain art styles’ basics. Unfortunately, many of those whose art is involved in these training programs did not agree to its use, and the companies running these systems are profiting off of stolen art. 

Though people have attempted to deny this fact, users of AI art apps like Lensa have begun to notice minute details in the generated art that indicate it having been stolen.

Photo of thread made by Twitter user @LaurynIpsum | Via Twitter

Twitter user @LaurynIpsum points out in her thread on these AI art programs that, “Seeing a Lensa portrait where what was clearly once an artist’s signature is visible in the bottom right and people are still trying to argue it isn’t theft.” 

These AI systems are based on pattern recognition, meaning that while they may not be stealing any one individual’s art, they are sourcing from thousands of artists that have not agreed to be used as a source for a system of this kind.

Artists are also not the only ones affected by these training programs but everyone who posted a selfie online as well, since these AI’s scour the whole of the internet for source collection, making it entirely possible for oblivious peoples’ pictures to be used regularly with a lack of consent. 

The website Have I Been Trained was created to combat this exact problem, allowing users to search for pictures that may have been used to train an AI. While this is an incredibly helpful tool, there are a multitude of potential privacy issues that may arise from people being unable to remove their pictures from these systems. 

What once began as an exciting new way for us to test the limits of technology and artificial intelligence has devolved into a hedonistic free for all where artistic integrity is being blatantly ignored in favor of pretty pictures you can get for cheap. 

Since we live in a society capitalizing off of other people’s work, it’s hard to ethically consume any content but it is our responsibility as consumers to make the most ethical choices possible, and AI art is certainly not one of them. 

DISCLAIMER:

The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of the PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

2 Comments on "AI Art: Why it’s hurting our artists "

  1. I use ai art or rather I plug in descriptions & art is created. Using playground ai it is clear in some creations that there appears to be part of a signature or a signature. Sometimes the artist name is just a scribble. I am diligent in deleting these. However, I do feel that some ppl are not going to look that closely for scribbles, etc., I’m torn about it. I find value in both POV

  2. DIEGO FRANCO FERREIRA | December 3, 2023 at 9:43 AM | Reply

    As a human artist I can also get “inspired” or downright “copy” a fellow artist if I like his style. There is absolutely NOTHING that can be done to stop AI. Right now some of its works are ridiculously original, even if it “bases” its work in existing pieces.

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